Mobile Chat Rooms

When I was writing Totally Wired, I remember interviewing a group of low-income African American teens in Philly and asking them about an article I read on teens using chat lines. For teens without computers at home, this was the alternative form of socializing and flirting. It makes sense that phones, especially cell phones would take the place of more expensive laptops or PCs for low income youth…and that mobile social networking would also appeal to this audience for the same reason. AdWeek ran a piece about Axe’s latest attempt to reach their target audience in this space. What I found interesting was the description of who is using mobile chatrooms:

AirG research shows that most of its members are between 18-30 years old and work in service industries, 60 percent did not go to college and more than half don’t own a PC. Almost all bought their phones for $100 or less…

Members use the network to locate friends, send instant messages or join interest-based “lounges” to chat with multiple users about various subjects. They share photos and videos and search for dates, just like on MySpace.

I would be curious to see a socio-economic portrait of the teen users on these services as well.



  1. schizo

    I am a 44 year old male, living in a remote part of Hawai’i island. There are no utilities in my area, thus I am a web noob with experience working with MS-DOS, dBase, BASIC, FoxPro, Visual Basic, VBA, C, C+, Novell NetWare, RAID storage, etc from my college days in the mid ‘90’s. Then I moved to my present location & didn’t touch a computer for years.
    I had only been on the web sporadically until I discovered the mobile web. My first exposure to the mobile web was AirG chat. From there I learned of a site called (now and a nifty little application called “Opera Mini.”
    Here I am three years later coding sites in xhtml / CSS.
    I do fit the “low income” model mentioned in the article, yet I happen to have three old PIII machines that I following around with from time to time. I just don’t have a phone line to hook into. Living off-grid, electricity is not as bountiful as I would like. I run my house off deep-cycle batteries charged by photovoltaic collectors, augmented by gasoline generator for backup & for high wattage appliances.
    I tried tethering my PC to my cell phone, but I was disappointed with my actual connection speeds of less than 3kbps! Not worth $70. a month!
    So I access the internet via my cell phone only.
    Thus, I feel that my situation is closer to that of people living in developing nations, where cell phones have brought the world wide web to others who, like I, have no other means of getting online.
    The site listed above was entirely constructed using a cellular phone.

  2. armywife

    i as well love my cell phone for airg an such things. i get alot of things done on it .... an payed well over 100$ for it.. an its not a pda.. or anything.. but i do use it like one.. i find places to eat.. directions IMing an such an such.. an yes i have a comp. im also not low incomed.. thanks to everyone else of course.. well those who pay there taxes any ways.. but i use my phone more than my comp. i know pleanty of people like this.. alot in my family.. its just a simpler, an a cheaper way.. an who doesnt want to save money

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